Parshat Metzora (Leviticus 14:1-15:33) By Rabbi Avi Killip We start from the assumption that every leper will eventually return to the community. The “יוֹם טָהֳרָתוֹ-day of cleansing” is a given. This is a radical idea. That the Torah instructs us to exile the leper during his ailment can seem harsh and maybe even cruel, but it reflects reality. There are always people on the margins of a society, who for one reason or another have been pushed out of the… Read more

Parshat Shemini, Leviticus 9:1-11:47 By Rabbi Gray Myrseth On a Tuesday towards the end of last summer, I sat in a classroom at my shul, across the table from two twelve-year-old boys. It was the first of many lessons we would have together in the course of their Bar Mitzvah studies and we were discussing their Torah portion assignments. One would be chanting from and speaking about Parshat Shlach Lecha, with its themes of perception, doubt, fear, and courage. The… Read more

Parasha for the Last Day of Pesach By Rabbi Elisha Herb A fire and brimstone Christian preacher once taught me that the cunning of the snake in Eden was his mastery of “half-truths.” He knew he could hook Eve by saying of the fruit of the forbidden tree, “You will not ‘surely die’— – God knows that on the day you eat of its fruit, your eyes will be opened and you will become like one of the Divine Powers,… Read more

First Day of Pesach By Rabbi Minna Bromberg The students in my singing and songwriting class—“consumers” at a hospital that offers inpatient services for people with serious mental illness—came into the chapel and began complaining before I could even say hello. One told me that her laryngitis won’t go away and the doctor won’t listen to her. Another said her back was really bothering her. A third said he really didn’t want to be in this class because he didn’t… Read more

Parashat Tzav (Leviticus 6:1-8:36) By Rabbi Margie Klein Ronkin My first summer on staff with the PICO faith-based national organizing network, I heard an encouraging presentation about a model state federation, call it OSC, and how it was changing the politics of its state. Yet, the following summer, all of the OSC staff were inexplicably missing from the national staff gathering. I later learned from my friend and former OSC staffer, whom I’ll call Emily, that despite their political success, the… Read more

Parashat Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1-5:26) By Rabbi Micha’el Rosenberg It’s the time of the year when I’ve got fat on my mind. We’ve arrived in the Torah reading cycle to the book of Leviticus, and there are a lot of fleshy, embodied, animal parts going on. We’ve got limbs and meat and blood; it’s a lot—for some too much—to keep track of. But I think that this year, it’s particularly important for us to think about the fat. Because now, it… Read more

Vayakhel-Pekudei (Exodus 35:1-40:38) By Rabbi Alyson Solomon In parshat Va’yakhel we find the Israelites, convoked, regally assembled at the bottom of the mountain. Moses tells the community eleh d’varim, “these are the things” that connect us to YHVH – the Source (35:1-4). This we spend six days creating: we weave, paint, send emails, drive carpools, buy, trade, and cook—and on the seventh day, we rest. On Shabbat, we take in the beauty and grandeur of creation and are renewed, re-created…. Read more

Parashat Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11-34:35) By Rabbi Mónica Gomery, Rab`17 and Laynie Soloman This week, revelation manifests as a rollercoaster in directionality, as Moses rises and falls from the base to the peak of Mount Sinai over and over again: “And the Lord said to Moses: “Go, descend, for your people….” (32: 7) “… On the next day Moses said to the people: “You have committed a grave sin. And now I will ascend to the Lord;” (32:30) “…and Moses arose early… Read more

Parshat Tetzaveh (Exodus 27:20-30:10) By Rabbi Adina Allen “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord of Hosts!” Chanting these words in the Kedusha, we stand, feet together, mimicking the angels on high. As we press up onto our toes, yearning for that Divine connection, we take on the posture of these pure, ethereal beings without physical characteristics that exist only in spirit. Our conception of holiness often follows on this track, conjuring images of those things pure, simple, beyond the mundanity… Read more

Parashat Terumah (Exodus 25:1-27-19) By Rabbi Adam Lavitt Speaking with a woman in hospice care, she told me she could not watch the news anymore because it depressed her too much. Though she was facing the end of her life, the turbulence of these times was utterly unbearable to her. In her despair I saw reflected back to me my own certainty, as I look into the public sphere, that our society is stuck. Her hopelessness touched my own fear… Read more

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